NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) 20120008629: Morpheus: Advancing Technologies for Human Exploration
Publication date 2012-05-23
Topics NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS), PLANETARY LANDING, LUNAR SURFACE, GUIDANCE (MOTION), SURFACE NAVIGATION, SPACECRAFT PROPULSION, GROUND BASED CONTROL, PROTOTYPES, STATIC TESTS, SPACECRAFT TRAJECTORIES, NASA PROGRAMS, VERTICAL LANDING, VERTICAL TAKEOFF, TETHERING, LESSONS LEARNED, METHANE, Olansen, Jon B., Munday, Stephen R., Mitchell, Jennifer D., Baine, Michael,
NASA's Morpheus Project has developed and tested a prototype planetary lander capable of vertical takeoff and landing. Designed to serve as a vertical testbed (VTB) for advanced spacecraft technologies, the vehicle provides a platform for bringing technologies from the laboratory into an integrated flight system at relatively low cost. This allows individual technologies to mature into capabilities that can be incorporated into human exploration missions. The Morpheus vehicle is propelled by a LOX/Methane engine and sized to carry a payload of 1100 lb to the lunar surface. In addition to VTB vehicles, the Project s major elements include ground support systems and an operations facility. Initial testing will demonstrate technologies used to perform autonomous hazard avoidance and precision landing on a lunar or other planetary surface. The Morpheus vehicle successfully performed a set of integrated vehicle test flights including hot-fire and tethered hover tests, leading up to un-tethered free-flights. The initial phase of this development and testing campaign is being conducted on-site at the Johnson Space Center (JSC), with the first fully integrated vehicle firing its engine less than one year after project initiation. Designed, developed, manufactured and operated in-house by engineers at JSC, the Morpheus Project represents an unprecedented departure from recent NASA programs that traditionally require longer, more expensive development lifecycles and testing at remote, dedicated testing facilities. Morpheus testing includes three major types of integrated tests. A hot-fire (HF) is a static vehicle test of the LOX/Methane propulsion system. Tether tests (TT) have the vehicle suspended above the ground using a crane, which allows testing of the propulsion and integrated Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GN&C) in hovering flight without the risk of a vehicle departure or crash. Morpheus free-flights (FF) test the complete Morpheus system without the additional safeguards provided during tether. A variety of free-flight trajectories are planned to incrementally build up to a fully functional Morpheus lander capable of flying planetary landing trajectories. In FY12, these tests will culminate with autonomous flights simulating a 1 km lunar approach trajectory, hazard avoidance maneuvers and precision landing in a prepared hazard field at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). This paper describes Morpheus integrated testing campaign, infrastructure, and facilities, and the payloads being incorporated on the vehicle. The Project s fast pace, rapid prototyping, frequent testing, and lessons learned depart from traditional engineering development at JSC. The Morpheus team employs lean, agile development with a guiding belief that technologies offer promise, but capabilities offer solutions, achievable without astronomical costs and timelines.
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